No discussion of the Star Wars franchise would be complete without talking about the armpit of awfulness known as The Star Wars Holiday Special. This is something you really need to see. Just as you need to see the Bee Gee’s and Peter Frampton try to make a movie of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band or hear William Shatner try to sing “Mr. Tambourine Man,” this is the accident on the side of the road that you can’t help but stare at in disbelief.
Take yourself back to 1978 and remember the variety shows popular back then – Donnie & Marie, Sonny & Cher, Barbara Mandrell & the freaking Mandrell Sisters. Now combine it with Star Wars and you can only begin to imagine the mess. The “story” involves the Millennium Falcon having to return to Chewbacca’s home planet so his family (Malla, Itchy and Lumpy) can celebrate “Life Day.”
Basically the thing starts out with about twenty minutes of Wookiee talk, highlighted by Grampa Wookiee seemingly getting off on some virtual reality Wookiee porn, which turns out to be Diane Carroll singing. This, closely followed by a Jefferson Starship performance (get it – Starship! ‘cause it’s in space – yeah.) and a plethora of guest stars like Art Carney and Harvey Korman, highlighted by Bea Arthur singing to a giant rat in the Cantina. As a bonus, the cast of Star Wars (yes, even Harrison Ford), humiliates themselves for our entertainment. Want to see Mark Hamill in way too much eye makeup? How about Carrie Fisher singing lyrics to the Star Wars theme?
Needless to say, after one showing in 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special was hidden away in a secret vault in the hopes that it would be forgotten. As a result, it’s only available as a bootleg. The version I saw was a friend’s bootleg videotape of a New York airing that included commercials and a teaser to the evening’s local newscast. This teaser was of a mustached, very ‘70’s announcer right out of Anchorman, repeatedly promising, “fighting frizzies, tonight at 11:00!” This made me laugh hysterically because I had recently watched The South Park Holiday Special, which had a parody of that same news teaser. Utterly inexplicable; unless you had, not only seen the Holiday Special, but the version that aired in New York, with the commercials intact. Talk about an inside joke!